Tigers claw away from Wildcats with 61-yard sealer

Quarterback Will Howard looks down the field for DJ Giddens during the 30-27 loss to Missouri. Howard hobbled throughout the second half, saying he "banged his leg up" after the game. (Avery Johnson | Collegian Media Group)

The matchup between Kansas State and Missouri on Sept. 16, 2023, will go down all-time in the rivalry. The Tigers used the longest kick in SEC history to send K-State home 30-27. 

The game for the Wildcats started off similar to how the first two games in the year went.

Again, K-State led its first drive for a touchdown. Quarterback Will Howard completed five passes for 55 yards while collecting 20 on the ground. A holding call took away a Howard touchdown but he still found his score. The Wildcats picked up a third-and-10 blitz as a near interception had a Wildcat deflection into the hands of wide receiver Phillip Brooks for the touchdown.

The defense did not keep the trend of first drives. After three designed runs for quarterback Brady Cook, he found star wide receiver wide open down the field for a 47-yard touchdown. The deep ball marked the first time K-State allowed a first quarter score in 2023.

Another first of the season followed the Tiger score. Howard threw his third interception in as many games after a late pressure, resulting in a Missouri field goal. The Wildcats found themselves down for the first time in the season. 

A K-State three-and-out and a missed Missouri field goal gave K-State another chance to retake the lead. Four first down conversions led to a third-and-goal touchdown to tight end Ben Sinnott, his first catch and first touchdown of the game.

However, the lead was short-lived as a 41 and 27-yard play led to first and goal for the Tigers. Missouri found itself with fourth-and-1, but a fake wide receiver pitch led to Cook running it into the end zone. 

Sinnott collected a 34-yard pass down the sideline on the following drive, but K-State failed to capitalize. A first-and-10 from the Missouri 28 quickly turned into fourth-and-19, resulting in a missed field goal as the half ended with the Tigers up 17-14.

K-State bounced back in the second half with Missouri getting the ball. Linebacker Daniel Green made back-to-back plays with a tackle for loss and a sack to get the ball back. The offense responded with a field goal to tie the game.

After a Missouri punt, the Wildcats went back down the field for another Sinnott touchdown. Missouri responded with two big plays but settled for a field goal after a pass breakup from cornerback Will Lee III. 

Play continued back-and-forth until Missouri’s big plays continued. A 36-yard run from running back Cody Schrader led to a screen touchdown to wide receiver Luther Burden III to go up 27-24.

Another response was served as the Wildcats drove down the field. A costly third-and-goal false start forced a Wildcat field goal. A punt from each team on the next two drives led to an ending for the ages.

Missouri received the ball with 1:25 left at 27-27. Slowly moving down the field, the Tigers found themselves with a potential 56-yard field goal with six seconds. Poor communication led to a false start. Nevertheless, the Tigers found a way.

In the winding seconds, kicker Harrison Mevis launched a 61-yard field, barely gliding over the goal posts as the clock struck zero. Students swarmed the field as the Tigers won 30-27.

Each team struggled to run throughout the game as the quarterbacks battled while dealing with in-game injuries. Howard threw for 270 yards and three touchdowns as Cook threw for 356 with two scores. Backup quarterback Avery Johnson received time in read option plays, recording four carries for 24 yards.

“For us it was a game of missed opportunities,” head coach Chris Klieman said. “We probably missed some plays on offense that we’d like to have back. We struggled with the explosive play on defense.”

The all-time rivalry had its moments in the slugfest. The Wildcats move on to the beginning of Big 12 play with UCF 7 p.m. at home Sept. 23.